Early Park Admission is a great perk at Universal that allows guests to enter the theme parks early to try their favorite rides and experiences without the huge lines. Getting into the parks without the crowds can make your vacation extra special and help ensure you get the most out of your visit. This guide will go over everything you need to know about the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Pass so you can decide whether or not to use it on your trip!

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Early Park Admission Pass Universal Orlando

Early Park Admission is a perk that lets Universal visitors enter the parks an hour early, ahead of the normal crowds for the day. The pass will let you try some of your favorite rides, try some of the most popular experiences, enter into virtual lines for other rides, and see some of your favorite Universal spots without the crowds.

Universal Orlando Rides - Hargrid's Motorbike Adventure

One of the ways to get an Early Park Admission Pass is by staying at one of the Universal hotels. My family and I visit Universal 2-3 times a year and we almost always stay at a Universal hotel, meaning we can take advantage of the early park admission. From personal experience, this is one of the best ways to experience your favorite theme park rides and enjoy things like the Harry Potter Worlds in the parks. Crowds always make Universal visits tougher and this is one of the best ways to beat them!

How to Get Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

There are three ways to get an Early Park Admission Pass at Universal Orlando:

  • Stay at a Universal Orlando On-Site Hotel
  • Stay at an Off-Site Universal Partner Hotel and Purchase a Universal Vacation Package*
  • Buy Certain Universal Annual Pass**

As you can see, this pass is not directly available for purchase and is intended more as a reward/incentive for Universal’s customers planning their vacations. Let’s dive into the details of each of these methods regarding how you can get an Early Park Admission Pass.

Stay at an On-Site Universal Hotel

Universal Orlando - Portofino Bay Hotel

Your room at an on-site universal hotel comes with early park admission for all the individuals attached to your booking. An on-site Universal hotel is a resort hotel that is on the property of Universal Orlando Resort. Universal has eight hotels on its property that represent a variety of price points and themes.

I love staying at these hotels because of their convenient location, great food, entertainment, and perks. My kids love them too because of their themes — it feels like the Universal experience just continues on after you leave the parks and go back to your hotel!

There are a variety of price points available that make these hotels accessible for almost every budget, but they generally cost a bit more than the hotels outside of Universal Orlando Resort.

Stay at an Off-Site Universal Partner Hotel and Purchase a Universal Vacation Package

Universal partners with many hotels around the resort to offer perks with your stay. Alongside other benefits like complimentary shuttle transportation, Universal Partner hotels offer the ability to purchase Universal Orlando park packages with your room. With the purchase of these park packages, you will most likely have the chance to get early park admission.

* Be sure to verify with the hotel or your trusted travel agent before committing as perks can change!

I know that booking a vacation can be confusing and there are a lot of moving parts, and that’s one of the main reasons why I always book my trips with a travel agent. I use The Vacationeer when I book my Universal trips because they always make sure that I get the best experience at the best price.

Buy a Universal Annual Pass

Early Park Admission is one of the benefits that comes with the purchase of some Universal Studios Annual passes.

**You will only have access to this perk if you purchase a Preferred Pass or a Premier Pass.

These annual passes not only allow you into the parks themselves throughout the year, but also to access your favorite rides an hour early on select days throughout the year. These select days are the same for all individuals who are using an Early Park Admission pass, and a schedule of these dates can be found on the Universal website.

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Universal Hotels That Offer Early Park Admission

Staying at a hotel in Universal is probably the most common way to get early park admission. Thankfully, this perk is available for guests staying at any of the Universal hotels. These hotels include:

  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites (Value Hotel – $)
  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites (Value Hotel – $)
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel (Prime Value Hotel – $$)
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Prime Value Hotel – $$)
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Preferred Hotel – $$$)
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Premier Hotel – $$$$)
  • Hard Rock Hotel (Premier Hotel – $$$$)
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Premier Hotel – $$$$)

If you stay at a premier hotel, you will also have access to free Universal Express Unlimited Passes for all guests in your room, allowing you to skip lines throughout the whole day in the parks.

Universal Partner Hotels That Offer Early Park Access

Universal partners with dozens of hotels within a few miles of Universal Orlando Resort to offer perks to guests. These Universal-Partner hotels have perks like complimentary shuttle transportation to the theme parks and the ability to book a Universal park package with your room.

I’ve stayed at Universal-Partner hotels before when it made sense for my available credit card points and I’ve always had a great stay. It’s certainly not the same experience as staying at a Universal Hotel, but these hotels always have a certain standard of quality and it’s easy to get to the theme parks where my family and I tend to spend most of our time anyway. I have never actually booked a Universal Park package with my room, but I have friends that have done so and they say it’s easy and convenient. Some of these hotels include:

  • Rosen Shingle Creek
  • Hyatt House Across from Universal Orlando Resort
  • Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando
  • Best Western Orlando Gateway Hotel

If you book one of these resort packages with the hotel, you will likely be able to get early park access for the duration of your visit (just be sure to verify with your hotel before committing!).

This means that you don’t necessarily have to stay at a Universal hotel to enjoy some of the benefits!

How to Use Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

Just having the Early Park Admission pass is not necessarily enough to guarantee a good park experience in the morning because there is some strategy involved in getting the most out of your time! First of all, what time does early park admission start?

Early park admission for Universal’s two theme parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, is an hour before the parks open. For Universal’s water park, Volcano Bay, early park entry tends to be 30 minutes to an hour before the park opens. These start times vary throughout the year because the theme parks open at different hours in the high season and the off season. For Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, early park admission is generally 8:00 am – 9:00 am in the off-season and 7:00 am – 8:00 am in the high season. For Volcano Bay, early park entry is usually between 8:00 am or 8:30 am – 9:00 am throughout the year.

Line to enter VelociCoaster

The best way to get the most out of your Early Park Admission Pass is to get to the park entrance at least 30 min before the pass start time. I’ve made the mistake before of showing up late to early park entry and I didn’t get much benefit from the pass. Showing up 30 min early will give you some time to get through the security checks and get through Universal CityWalk before the park opens. If you arrive at the security checkpoints at or just after your early park admission start time, you may end up spending longer than you would like just getting into the parks, and waste a good chunk of your valuable time when you should be enjoying the rides.

Here’s where staying on-site helps; the on-site hotels are all within a reasonable walking distance of the parks, and some are close enough that you don’t need to waste time waiting on a bus or water taxi.

Don’t forget to bring your hotel keys and, of course, your theme park tickets! The hotel keys are required to enter as they act as a sort of ‘ticket’ for early park admission.

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Best Time to Use Early Park Admission at Universal

No matter the time of the year there is never a bad moment to use early park admission, although there are some times during the year when it’s more important than others to take advantage of this pass.

Getting to the parks an hour early and enjoying your favorite rides without big lines is a huge win any time of the year, and I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity whenever it’s available to you.

But, using the Early Park Admission Pass is particularly important during the busy times of the year when crowd levels are at their highest. During the high season, school vacations, and around special Universal events are when crowds are normally at full force. I always use crowd calendars to keep track of the resort’s busiest times to try and book my family’s vacations around the surges.

During these times, lines in the park can be particularly long, meaning that during the day you will likely have less time to try all the rides you’re interested in, making it extra important to take advantage of Early Park Admission. This pass can let you try some of the most popular rides before the huge crowds arrive, and even enter into virtual lines for other popular rides while you are waiting in a physical line for another ride. This will let you knock out some of the biggest rides on your list in the morning and then focus on the rides with slightly smaller lines later in the day!

What Attractions Can You Visit Using Early Park Admission?

Some of Universal’s best rides are available for early park admission, but not every park or every ride participates on every day of the year. The official list of available parks and rides changes throughout the year, so keep an eye on the updated lists from Universal or your travel agent before you go to the parks.

As an example only, here are the parks and rides which offered early admission from July 1 – September 30, 2023:

Universal Studios Florida

  • No announced early park admission from July 1 – September 30, 2023

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Ollivander’s
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Universal’s Volcano Bay

  • Ohyah of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides
  • Ohno of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides
  • Honu of the Honu Ika Moana
  • ika Moana of the Honu ika Moana
  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Ko’okiri Body Plunge
  • Waturi Wave Pool

Again, these are examples only as parks and rides change from month to month — always check for the latest list before you head to the parks!

What Are the Best Rides to Use Early Park Admission?

Thankfully, Universal generally makes some of its most popular rides available for early park admission. The best way to take advantage of this pass is to try the popular rides that would normally have the longest lines in the park. This will let you experience some of the best rides in Universal without the long wait that is typical.

Some of these rides include:

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

These rides are located in Islands of Adventure (working off the available list) but other popular rides from Universal Studios may also be available. The day before you plan on using early park admission I’d recommend doing research about what rides you are most excited to try, and then check the updated Universal lists to see if they are available for early park admission. Rides like Hagrid’s and the VelociCoaster are arguably the most popular in the resort and are known to have long lines, so definitely take advantage of your early entry to give these a go!

What Are the Best Parks to Use Early Park Admission?

If you are unsure where to begin, I would recommend visiting either Islands of Adventure or one of the Harry Potter Worlds with your Early Park Admission Pass. Islands of Adventure includes some of my favorite rides like the VelociCoaster and the rides in Hogsmeade, the park’s Harry Potter World.

These rides, along with the two Harry Potter Worlds tend to be some of the busiest locations in the parks. Universal Orlando has two Harry Potter Worlds, one in each theme park. In Islands of Adventure, you can see the Wizarding World of Hogsmeade. Here there are attractions like Hogwarts Castle, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Ollivander’s, and more. This is my favorite Harry Potter World so I’m a bit biased, but I highly recommend visiting here with your early entry.

In Universal Studios you can visit the Wizarding World of Diagon Alley, which is often just as busy as Hogsmeade. Here you can ride Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, visit Ollivander’s, and explore the dark corners of Diagon Alley. I recommend doing your research and finding the attractions you are most excited to try, and focus on knocking them off your list with your Early Park Admission Pass!

Is Using Early Park Admission Worth It?

Absolutely. Considering this is a ‘free’ perk that comes with your hotel stay or annual pass, there is only an upside to using your available early park admission. Getting into the parks an hour early will give you and your family the best chance to try the most popular lines without wasting hours of your day, along with giving you a chance to enjoy just walking around the parks without the huge crowds!

The only downside to using early park admission is that you need to wake up early to really take advantage of it. Setting that alarm for 5:30 am or 6:00 am may be harder for some than others, but I promise that once you are in the park speeding through the lines of some of Universal’s best attractions you won’t have any regrets!


Early Park Admission is one of the best ways to enjoy Universal’s world-famous theme parks without worrying about big lines. You can get this pass with your Universal Hotel Room, a Universal-Partner hotel theme park package, or an annual pass. I absolutely recommend taking advantage of this perk because it will help you make the most of your Universal vacation!

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